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Archive for the ‘In-Person Classes’ Category

How Many Attendees are Enough?

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

stockfresh_5559584_reaching-for-a-star_sizeS-203x300Note: The NTC wishes to thank Karen Vargas and the NN/LM OERC for permission to repost this blog from . It seemed especially relevant to what we as the NTC are about and do, as well as to the OERC.

I enjoyed reading an article in Public Libraries titled “The Grass Is Always Greener” by Melanie A. Lyttle and Shawn D. Walsh.  They discuss the complexities of deciding whether a program was “well attended” or “nobody came.”  Sometimes a program that seems well attended in one situation is the same as a poorly attended program in another.

I can think of a lot of times I’ve experienced this exact situation. When I was a branch manager at a public library, the program manager at the main library would ask if she could send authors to speak at our branch library.  When I said, “maybe you should send them somewhere else – we only had ten people come to the last one,” she replied “ten is a lot – ten is more than we get anywhere else.”

When I worked at the NN/LM South Central Region, in some parts of the region 30 people could be expected to attend training sessions.  In other parts of the region, we considered 6 people a successfully attended program.  These differences often corresponded to urban vs. rural, or the travel distance needed to get to the training, or whether the librarians were largely solo librarians or worked in multi-librarian organizations, or whether their institutions supported taking time off for training.  Other considerations include whether the trainers had already built an audience over time that would regularly attend the programs. Or on the other hand, whether the trainers had saturated their market and there were very few new people to learn about the topic.

So how can you decide what a good target participation level should be, or maybe more importantly, how can you explain your participation targets to your funder or parent organization?

Tying your participation level to your intermediate and long-term intended outcomes is one way to do that.  Let me give you an example of a program in Houston that was funded by the NN/LM South Central Region. The Greater Houston AHEC received funding many years ago to do an in-depth training project with a small number of seniors in the most underserved areas of Houston.  The goals were to teach these seniors how to use computers, how to get on the Internet, how to use email, and then how to use MedlinePlus and NIHSeniorHealth to look up health information.  They planned for the seniors to take 2-3 classes a week, and each class lasted several hours. It was a big commitment, but they intended for these seniors to really know how to use the Internet at the end of the series.  There were so few seniors who saw the need to learn to use computers that they had to persuade about 10 people from each location to sign up.  However, the classes were so good and the seniors so enthusiastic, that after a couple of weeks, the other seniors wanted to take classes too.  This led to a phase 2 project which included funding for a permanent computer and coffee area in a senior center where students could practice their Internet skills. There is now a third phase of the program called M-SEARCH which teaches seniors to use mobile devices to look up their health information.

At the beginning, Greater Houston AHEC may not have envisioned these specific outcomes.  However, if they were trying to convince a funder that 10 person classes were a reasonable use of the funder’s money, it might be good to show that small in-depth classes could lead to a long-term outcome like “seniors in even the poorest neighborhoods in Houston will be able to research their health conditions on NIHSeniorHealth.”  In addition, it would be important to bring in other factors, such as your intended goals for the project, for example whether you hope to have a small group of these seniors that you can train to really use the Internet for health research or whether you want to reach a lot of seniors in underserved areas to let them know that it’s possible to find great health information using NLM resources (see the Kirkpatrick Model of training evaluation for more information on evaluating your training goals).

For more on creating long-term outcomes, see Booklet 2 of the OERC’s booklets: Planning Outcomes-based Outreach Projects

Training the Trainers at the U

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Training. It’s what we do at the National Library of Medicine Training Center. Although we spend a great deal of time training librarians and others around the United States, we also realize the importance of opportunities to learn and develop by attending training ourselves.

Systematic Reviews have begun to take a prominent place in the discussion and work of many academic and health sciences librarians. For these reasons, the University of Utah has invited Joseph Nicholson, Coordinator for Systematic Reviews Services at the New York University Academy of Medicine, Health Sciences Library, to provide an in-depth session with case studies, practical exercises and expertise for Eccles Health Sciences Library, NN/LM MCR staff, and NN/LM NTC staff.

The all-day event will take place on January 25, 2016 at the Eccles Health Sciences Library, University of Utah.

Eccles graphic

Adults Seeking Health Information Online

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

More and more U.S. adults are turning to the Internet for health information. A recent graph published in MMWR by the CDC shows that during 2012-2014, 33-49% of adults reported looking up health information on the Internet during the previous 12 months. The percentage was highest among adult residents of large fringe metropolitan counties and lowest among adult residents of rural counties. Where did people go to find this information? According to the Pew Research Center, “73% of all those ages 16 and over say libraries contribute to people finding the health information they need.” There is little question that librarians of all types will continue to play a role in helping to connect users to the health information they desire.

Your Regional Medical Library is a great source of ideas and training on how to help your users locate the authoritative information they need through National Library of Medicine resources and databases. And, the National Library of Medicine Training Center provides in-person and online training to keep your knowledge and skills up-to-date. Check out the calendar of upcoming training events you might be able to take advantage of in the new year. A number of self-paced tutorials and recordings from selected training sessions, including PubMed and TOXNET, and also available. Man with laptop drinking coffee in a cafe

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
top-100-tools-for-learning-2015-1-638NTC staff follow a number of blogs, online forums, listservs, and Twitter feeds related to learning and instruction. Jane Hart is a well-regarded international speaker and writer on modern approaches to workplace learning. Jane is the also the Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT), one of the world’s most visited learning sites on the Web, where she also compiles the very popular annual Top 100 Tools for Learning list from the votes of learning professionals worldwide.  Her blog, Learning in the Social Workplace, was recently rated top of the 50 most socially shared Learning and Development blogs.

Recently, the blog published the Top 100 Tools for Learning for 2015. For the seventh year running Twitter is the Number 1 tool on the list, although this year it is very closely followed by YouTube, and, once again, the list is dominated by free online tools and services. Jane observes, “I can also see some interesting new trends in the tools that are being used for both personal learning and for creating learning content and experiences for others.”

Some “Big Movers” on the 2015 list – moved up sixteen or more places – including Skype, OneNote, SharePoint, and Kahoot. To read the full blog post, including the complete presentation of the 2015 list, visit:Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015.

Back to the past with Plickers

Monday, August 10th, 2015

I recently attended a conference called the Summer Institute of Distance Learning and Instructional Technology (SIDLIT…pronounced Side Light). In years gone by I have been a fan of using clickers in the classroom as a way to engage and assess students, but you have to have the devices and they cost money.  Enter Plickers or paper clickers. Plickers work with a free app on your iPhone or Android smart phone. Print the cards, hand them out to students and then display your question to the class. Students hold up the paper card with the letter of their answer on top. I was student #18 and I answered C in the image below. Then, the instructor walks around the class scanning the cards. This works best with a small group and goes quite fast. Real-time results are displayed to the class.

Find more information here:


Paper Clickers AKA Plickers

PubMed for Trainers Coming to a Town Near You

Monday, June 1st, 2015

The NTC and NLM will be offering PubMed for Trainers 10 times between now and April 30, 2016.

PubMed for Trainers is a 4-part series of classes; 3 online plus 1 in-person class. The class is worth 13 MLA CE credits.

Click here for a complete description of PubMed for Trainers

Boston, MA August 5-25, 2015 (Registration Closed)

New York, NY August 5-27, 2015 (Registration closed)

Chicago, IL September 3-25, 2015 (Waiting List Only)

Seattle, WA October 22-November 10, 2015 (5 seats available as of 9/8/15)

Bethesda, MD October 20-29, 2015 (3 seats available as of 9/8/15)

Miami, FL January 7-28, 2016

Bethesda, MD February 2-9, 2016

Davis, CA February 4-25, 2016

Dallas, TX March 3-24, 2016 (Waiting List Only)

St. Louis, MO April 4 – 14, 2016 (1 seat available as of 9/8/15)

PubMed for Trainers offers an in-depth, behind the scenes look at PubMed. You will:

  • Fill gaps in general knowledge you might have about MEDLINE and PubMed.
  • Enhance your knowledge of the MEDLINE database
  • Discover what the National Library of Medicine considers good background information.
  • Improve your PubMed search technique.
  • Improve your ability to analyze and implement Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

Click here to view the complete schedule of classes.

We hope to see you there!!

Why Tell Stories

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Chalkboard with What's Your Story

Take a minute and think of a story that inspired you. Maybe it changed your mind about something, spurred you to action, or just made you think. Don’t you hope your classes do the same for students?

We often hear about the importance of using stories to in classes to engage students and improve understanding, but let’s take a look at a few reasons why stories work.

Stories help us connect emotionally with our students, and when we do that, our students are primed to believe us.
Stories sharpen our curiosity. If you’re reading a good story, you want to continue reading and find out what happens next. The same is true for learners. A student trying to predict the next event is more engaged in learning.
Stories give relevance and context to the lessons, which helps students identify what’s in it for them.
Stories make complex concepts easier to understand by demonstrating what learners should do.
Stories are easier to process. Since you learned to read you’ve been making sense of stories, but you’ve had to learn to process graphs and charts.

To learn more about why stories work, check out this publication from SHIFT elearning.


Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Housekeeping details at the beginning of a class can seem a bit boring, but covering them is an important step in making your audience comfortable, especially if the training is more than an hour. So what should you include to make sure the basics are covered?

1. The Schedule: When does the training begin and end? When are the breaks? Is there a lunch break? How long is it? Knowing the schedule allows students to concentrate on the class. They’ll know when is the best time to get coffee, make a call, or attend to personal needs and may be less likely to step out of the classroom and miss an important concept.

2. Restrooms: Always include the location of the nearest restrooms, especially if participants are not familiar with the location.

3. Questions: Encourage your students to ask questions along the way. This gives you the opportunity to clear up misconceptions or fill in gaps right away, and allows the learner to move forward in the class.

For more ideas on what to include in your housekeeping details, visit the Langevin Learning blog.

Sticky Teaching

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

How do you take advantage of the way the brain works to make what you’re teaching stick? Check out this short SlideShare from Chris Lema on The ABC’s of Sticky Teaching.

Engaging the Unengaged: Part 1

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Metal ladder against red barn wall
I recently picked up a free e-book from Shift eLearning, called Engage the Unengaged: How to Create More Engaging eLearning Courses. You can download your own copy, too, if you’d like. I’ll share a few of their ideas in blog posts this week and next week. The focus of the e-book is on eLearning, but there are lessons here for the face-to-face classroom as well.

What is engagement? Shift eLearning uses “the level of participation and intrinsic motivation student displays in a learning environment” as their definition. It includes both behaviors (such as attention or effort) and attitudes (motivation or interest). An engaged learner is active and collaborative, seeks out help, and exerts his or her best effort in response to a challenge. Disengaged learners may do only the minimum work, delay completion of tasks, avoid challenges and may not participate. I’m sure you’ve met both in your classes.

There are a few things you can do to increase engagement, and even convert the disengaged to engaged. Here are a few strategies to try:

1. Acknowledge the prior knowledge of your students, and show them how the class will build on it.

2. Tell them what’s in it for them right away – don’t assume that they’ll know why the class is important. Why does this information matter and how is it relevant to their work or life?

3. Build in some immediate rewards. I don’t mean candy (though that works for some audiences). Can you reward them with affirmation or encouragement? Can you demonstrate to them how they are already doing something better or faster or more easily as a result of the class? Again, don’t just assume they’ll notice – point it out.

4. Take time for reflection. We’re often tempted to use every possible minute for dispensing information, but allowing time for reflective processing can help students to better retain the content. Ask students to stop, think, and apply what they have just learned or take a minute to consider how what they heard relates to their work.

5. Use good design and quality images. While this probably can’t sustain engagement, it may help to initiate it. In next week’s post, we’ll look at a few principles of attractive design.